Some people’s lives are so well turned out for them by fate or divine providence that art itself becomes envious of them. But art cannot create, the best it can do is immitate them.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio would have been a good subject for Pablo Picasso, had the famed painter lived longer to witness the fulfilment of a grand vision that implanted Akwa Ibom into world map thanks to Akpabio’s infrastructural renewal.
Akpabio is a representation of beauty in politics. And for the critical, it is precisely because of the power of this representation and the calmness with which he engages the controversies around it that defines his greatness as a political artist with much gravitas.
A few people can doubt his political achievement, fewer will dare challenge his milestones as governor of Akwa Ibom, where he gave a good account of himself.
Today when one looks back, the highlight of the trajectory of the state since a return to democracy in 1999 is largely a commentary on Akpabio’s legacy which is yet unsurpassed by any governor of the state before and after him.
Like all greatness, Akpabio has been much villified by his own political kin, detractors and others largely because of the Nigerian factor and the bandwagon effects of joining the Joneses without interrogating the subject of such vilification.
Only a few will score him low on his superintendency of Akwa Ibom, the infrastructural development of the state, his promotion of sports and his imprints in health care and other critical areas, point to his frugal management of the state’s resources.
That itself points to his legacy and is the strongest rebuttal to the accusations of some that he mismanaged the resources of the state he governed for eight years.
It is as much a sign of the confidence that president Muhammadu Buhari had in him that he appointed him Minister of Niger Delta Affairs even when it was clear he was new in the ruling party.
The ministry he inherited has had bad reputation for corruption, cronyism and crass inefficiency. Through his dynamic management, he has been able to bring the ministry into limelight, gradually turning the narrative from corruption to a new day, the dawn of new vision.
As a crusader for probity, sound management of resources and with a messianic mission to make the NDDC achieve its mandate, he introduced new style of management which has not gone down well with profiteers at the commission. The result of the confrontations that ensued was the National Assembly probe .
In-between the drama of the probe, allegations and counter allegations flied from both the minister’s side and from the NDDC, with a lot of pandora boxes being opened which poured dirt on some National Assembly members as part of the profiteering gang milking the commission.
In all this, there was no shred of evidence supplied against the minister. He came out unscathed.
He has repeatedly called for a thorough forensic audit of the commission, saying it was the only way to put a permanent stop to sleaze at the commission.
According to him, the NDDC would emerge stronger and well-focused to deliver its mandate at the end of the ongoing forensic audit which he himself spearheaded.
He repeated this mantra while inaugurating the Field Forensic Auditors at his office in Abuja recently, adding that a new NDDC will emerge after the exercise.
This was a determination to carry out the presidential directive on the holistic examination of activities of the commission from its inception in 2001 to August 2019, which Akpabio sees as critical.
He believes the forensic audit is not just in furtherance of the present administration’s policy agenda to check corruption, but a sustainable efforts under his watch to reposition the NDDC to change the narrative of the region.
As a crusader for best practices, he has at various fora, expressed concerns over the magnitude of rots at the commission.
He further stated that it is pertinent to have a forensic audit considering the amount of resources poured into the commission over the years compared with the level of development recorded over the same period of time.
According to him, “the forensic audit of the commission is supposed to examine and provide answers, as well as creating a framework for reversing the failures recorded in the past in order to recover those resources recoverable, plug the gaps and stop the waste that is keeping the region underdeveloped.
“Therefore, the forensic audit should be seen as an opportunity and not a witch-hunt, it is considered as an important project by President Muhammadu Buhari administration. It will also provide a strong base upon which a new NDDC will emerge.”
Adebayo Obajemu, writes from lagos